January 23, 2016

'Making A Murderer' video spoof starring me from LeBatard Show/Fusion TV; plus NFL Championship-Round playoff picks with who'll win Super Bowl poll. Vote now!; also, your greatest-NBA-center verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 23. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins earning back trust, greatest-NBA-centers poll, Kiper downgrades Fins draft, Heat/Panthers simultaneous slumps, return of Sarah Palin & more. 2Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Congrats to Heat star Dwyane Wade for earning yet another NBA All-Star Game start. At 34, D.Wade is aging as gracefully and effectively as most any athlete I have covered or seen." --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL CHAMPIONSHIP-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Nope, the Upset Bird is quiet today as the NFL playoffs pare to a final four with Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games. I Fripix Champgameslike both favorites, the visiting Patriots (at Broncos) and the homie Panthers (over Cardinals). By the way, Cinderella couldn't get past the velvet rope this year. No classic 'dog left in the hunt. In fact this is the first time in 11 years both conference title games have been No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in terms of seeding. Click on Championship-Round Gems for our two full prediction capsules. Also, click on Brady-Manning: The Latest And Last for our weekly Friday Page NFL column. It centers on the 17th and likely final duel in the epic Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry. Great rivalries always end with a winner, and the winner always is Time. In the poll below, it's who you think will win the Super Bowl, NOT who you want to win. Vote here with mind, not heart. You have $100 to bet on one team, straight up, to win it all. Who you got?

Showkiller'MAKING A SHOWKILLER': Fusion TV today rolled out a pretty clever spoof of Making A Murderer, the popular Netflix docu-series. It is Making A Showkiller, a promo for my Tuesday co-host role on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Showkiller (sometimes Showkilla) is a nickname of mine on the show for reasons I'll leave to the listener and viewer. Anyway, fun spoof and thanks to Charlie Hulme and the folks at Fusion. Click on Making a Showkiller to watch.

Poll result: Kareem, Wilt and Bill the Big 3 centers: We asked your vote for greatest NBA center of all-time in an alphabetical poll using ESPN's Top 10, and three guys accounted for almost 80 percent of the votes. It was Kareem-Abdul Jabbar winning with 29.6 percent followed by Wilt Chamberlain 26.9% and Bill Russell 21.6%. Then it was a huge dropoff but notable support for Shaquille O'Neal (8.4%) and Hakeem Olajuwon (8.0%). None of the other five had even 2%.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 07, 2016

Who should be Dolphins' next coach? Twelve choices, you pick one. Last chance to vote; poll ends noon today!; plus my Piazza/Hall column, Panthers' streak in historical perspective, Heat vs. Cats title odds & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 7. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! Barely. You get one full week. 2) See previous blogpost for final season results in Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Patriots with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Top Miami sports story of 2015 verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Piazza, other Hall voting show steroids stigma is softening: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza got into the baseball Hall of Fame tonight. Griffey was fully expected. But Piazza's election -- along with increased voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- strongly suggest the stigma against steroids-era guys is softening. Rumors alone kept Piazza out the previous three years. Now suddenly he's in. Click on Baseball's Cold War Is Slowly Ending to read my new column, online now and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.

Vote now! We declare a winner at noon today!

TannenbaumYOU PICK THE DOLPHINS' NEXT HEAD COACH: Update: Voting booth closes at noon today! Man, this poll has gotten a huuuge response and it's still too close to call. Very interesting results so far. Be a part of it. And quickly, please. Original post: I've had my say, online and in today's Miami Herald. Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the Dolphins try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Seven hires in a row (including interims) have not. Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt were the last two hires who had been NFL head coaches before; they also are the last two to be on the sideline when Miami won a playoff game. In this poll I list a dozen coaches alphabetically. Eleven have been reportedly linked to the job as candidates. I added Tom Coughlin, just for fun. Conspicuously absent from the list are Sean Payton and Chip Kelly, with no indications of Dolphins interest. Me? I'd give up a second-round draft pick for Payton in a millisecond. But it's Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) fronting the Dolphins search, not me. Ready to give Tannenbaum your input? Vote for the man you think would be the best next coach for Miami or the hire that would excite you the most. You can only vote for one. (Nobody said life was fair...) Vote now and say why you chose as you did.

FripixNFL PIX WEEK 17 RESULTS: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Well, fantasy is done. But our prognosticating isn't. Pix: Ending the regular season badly: We stumbled in at 8-8 overall. Wed also were disappointed to wrap it up 8-7-1 against the spread. Should have been better, considering we nailed our Upset of the Week with Bills over Jets ("Aawwk!") and had a big five 'dogs-with-points in the Dolphins, Saints, Redskins, Raiders and Seahawks. On to the playoffs!

PANTHERS' WINNING STREAK IN CONTEXT OF BEST WE'VE SEEN: The longest winning streak by South Florida's four major pro sports franchises:

Heat: 27 games. Feb. 3 through March 27, 2013. Third-longest in NBA history.

Dolphins: 18 games. Sept. 17, 1972 through Sept. 16, 1973. Tied third-longest in NFL history.

Panthers: 10 games. Dec. 15, 2015 through now; current. Cats' previous long streak was seven games, done three times, most recently 2008. Florida has won eight of its 10 games outright and two by shootout, and outscored opponents 35-12 during streak. NHL record is 17-game winning streak by 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. Panthers' next game: Thursday at Ottawa.

Marlins: 9 games. Done four times, most recently Sept 9-19, 2008. Marlins' long win streak is shortest of any MLB franchise.

Odds say Cats likelier to win championship than Heat: New championship betting odds out from Bovada show the Florida Panthers (14-1, tie 6th) have better NHL title odds than do the Heat (40-1, tie 8th) in the NBA. Golden State is a clear basketball favorite to repeat, at 5-4. Washington Capitals top a crowded hockey field, at 6-1. 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 20, 2015

Pulse Read: Who should be Hurricanes' next football coach? New poll. Vote now!; plus how Heat's Whiteside ranks among NBA's all-time great shot-blockers, Dolphins/NFL Week 11 picks & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Paris1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20. The atrocity was one week ago. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Larranaga's winning stewardship of UM hoops, Dolphins' playoff chances, cheetah forecasts Homestead winner, David Beckham, SOPY standings, NFL Week 10 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

SmokePULSE READ: WHO SHOULD BE HURRICANES' NEXT FOOTBALL COACH?: UM athletic director Blake James didn't ask for your help but let's give it to him anyway as his hired search firm, Korn Ferry, sets out to present James a list of contenders to replace the dismissed Al Golden next season. Our ballot below includes seven alphabetically listed contenders. They include four men with Canes ties (Rob Chudzinski, Mario Cristobal, Butch Davis and Greg Schiano); the current interim coach (Larry Scott); and two guys who'd be intriguing possibilities if they part ways with their current teams (Mark Richt and Charlie Strong). Our poll also includes the occasionally very popular Someone Else. Who, right now, do you most support as next Canes coach? Vote and say why.

PUTTING HASSAN WHITESIDE'S SHOT-BLOCKING IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Hassan Whiteside, the HassanHeat's one-man SWAT Team, has 50 blocks in 11 games this season, impressive on its own. Break it down further and per 48 minutes, he is averaging 7.57. That's blocks per full game. His career average per 48 minutes is now 5.74 blocks. I wondered how that compared to the NBA's most prolific shot-blockers of all-time so I crunched the numbers. Here is how Whiteside ranks among the league's Top 12 in total blocked shots. I list them in order of blocks-per-48-minutes (BP48M), with their rank in total blocks in parentheses. The word is impressive:

Player                                BP48M

Mark Eaton (5)                    5.84

HASSAN WHITESIDE         5.74

Tree Rollins (10)                 5.08

Alonzo Mourning (12)         4.35

Dikembe Mutombo (2)        4.29

Hakeem Olajuwon (1)        4.16

David Robinson (7)             4.14

Patrick Ewing (8)               3.42

Artis Gilmore (4)                3.24

Shaquille O'Neal (9)           3.13

Tim Duncan (6)                  3.08

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3)   2.66

Robert Parish (11)              2.48

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 11 PICKS: Coming off a predictions week that, like the Washington team's nickname is probably best not mentioned, we got off to a strong Week 11 start last Fripixnight, nailing the Jaguars' win both outright and against the spread. Click on Week 11 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins get huge home win over Tony Romo and Dallas; Arizona beats Cincy in Game of the Week; and it's Chargers over Chiefs in our Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on Upheaval Takes the Snap for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the leaguewide tumult at the quarterback position. Here, Ryan Tannehill in his fourth season hasn't made a Pro Bowl or the playoffs yet, but give him this: He gives Miami stability most teams don't enjoy. Tanny starts his 58th consecutive game Sunday. Only nine other teams, of 32, have had "perfect attendance" at the QB posotion with the same starter in every game since 2012.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 31, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 32.4%; plus Patriots remind Miami who's boss, 36-7; also, Heat lose at Cavs, NFL Week 8 predix, Mattingly-Marlins, FAU letter for Schnellenberger & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Tim1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30: Homestead-Miami Speedway announced that country superstar Tim McGraw will perform at NASCAR's season ending race there Nov. 22. 2) Marlins surprised nobody yesterday by announcing that Dan Jennings, already out as manager, would not return to the front office at all. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Opening Night with poll, Fox Sports' embarrassment, racist Halloween costumes & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Heat fall at Cavaliers: As last night was a measuring stick for the Dolphins, so would tonight be for the Heat facing LeBron James in Cleveland. Heat was 1-0 after beating Charlotte, the Titans/Texans of the NBA. The Cavs are the Patriots. Or something like that. Cleveland 102, Miami 92. LeBron 29, D.Wade 25.

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL WEEK 8: No sugarcoating: I was about as bad with my NFL picks last week as the FripixDolphins were in New England last night. Stumbled to 8-6 overall and sank to 4-9-1 against the spread. If those numbers aren't my season's nadir, I'm in trouble. Our Week 8 got off to a split start last night as I had Patriots winning but not covering. Click on Week 8 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Click on Rare History for my latest weekly Friday page NFL notes column. I lead with Sunday night's Packers-Broncos matchup, which is only the fourth meeting ever between teams 6-0 or better, and only the second career head-to-head for Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

See our Dolphins-Pats in-game blog and postgame thoughts immediately below the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 32.4%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they shows 32.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday night's 36-7 loss at New England putting Miami's Dsmseason record at 3-4. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Saturday.

Interpreting the latest vote: This was a tough vote, having to weigh a really disappointing loss at New England against the elation of the previous two weeks. But a fresh loss to the Patriots weighs heaviest, and 3-4 is 3-4. So 32.4 percent sounds about right. 

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Next poll: Nov. 8 (following game at  Buffalo)

G7: NEW ENGLAND 36, DOLPHINS 7: MEASURING STICK SPANKS MIAMI, WAKE LOST FOR YEAR: Postgame thoughts: Wow. This is the difference between Titans/Texans and Patriots. Miami was never really in this game after being down early. Tom Brady was his usual excellent self, with 356 yards passing and four TDs. Ryan Tannehill countered with a 300-yard game that demeans the standard, with a meager 64.6 rating and two interceptions. Fins also managed a mere 15 yards rushing on 13 carries, the third-worst total in the franchise's 50 seasons. And cloaking the whole night like a sinister cloud: Cam Wake's injury. An Achilles. That is never good, and I'd expect it to be confirmed today what ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report this morning: That it's a torn Achilles and that Wake is done for the season. To summarize: Miami falls to 3-4, is 0-3 vs. the AFC East, just got embarrassed on national TV by its biggest rival, and now has lost its most impactful defender. The legend of Dan Campbell has taken a broadside hit. The rollicking, jam-packed DC Bandwagon suddenly has a few good seats available. ..... [Note: A computer gremlin zapped our live third and fourth quarter snippets. Apologies]. ..... Second Q: Miami tries 63-yard FG on last play of half, misses badly. ... Pats 19-0 just before half on short Brady pass to Dion Lewis. Man, this has turned into a rout. Miami defense barely OK, offense abysmal. ... Tannehill intercepted, leading to 52-yard Pats FG. Miami has 39 net yards of offense late in first half. Ugh. ... NE 9-0 on dumb safety against Miami. Tannehill in shotgun, not ready for snap, and Pouncey hikes it past Tanny and out of the end zone. ..... First Q: Brady ends 1Q 9-for-11 for 128 yards. ... Pats quick 7-0 lead on Gronkowski 47-yard catch and run from Brady. Missed tackle by Reshad Jones let Gronk loose. ..... Original post: They are both hot, and they are what makes this Dolphins-Patriots matchup extra special. Red-hot QBs Tom Brady vs. Ryan Tannehill? Oh that, too, I guess, now that you mention it. But I meant Gisele Bundhcen vs. Lauren Tannehill.. Anyway, the revitalized Dolphins we have seen the past two games look good enough to beat anyone, anywhere -- and that might even include the mighty Patriots in chilly Foxborough tonight on national TV. An upset win by Dolpat
Miami (an 8-point 'dog) would mildly surprise but certainly not shock. This feels like a great matchup to kick off NFL Week 8. Miami will have a big chance especially if the Cam Wake-led sack party continues and gets in Brady's pocket ... and in his head. This game is the ultimate challenge, though, and until the Dolphins prove they can pass a test this Dolpatlauren Dolpatgiseledifficult, then thinking they will remains risky. The Titans and Texans that Miami dominated have a combined 3-10 record. The Patriots fronted by Bill Belichick and Brady are a whole different animal. One with claws and fangs. The palpable lift interim coach Dan Campbell has given the


Fins is real; I respect that. But what I respect even more is that "at New England" might be any opponent's scariest three words. Too many trends pointing Pat-ward make an outright upset too tall a call here. NE has won 21 of its past 22 home games. Brady is 12-1 with eight wins in a row at home over Miami. Tannehill is 0-3 with five picks at Gillette Stadium. Having said all of that, the point spread still feels a bit fat. I trust the Dolphins' improvement enough to see this one TV-pleasing close. Click on Thursday Night Gem for our full prediction capsule. My pick: Patriots, 28-24.

MARLINS REPORTEDLY HIRE MATTINGLY: The news site Vice Sports reports today (story here) that the DonmMiami Marlins have agreed to terms on a four-year contract with manager and former Yankees star Don Mattingly, who led the Los Angeles Dodgers for five years until the team and he parted ways after this past season. His Dodgers record was 446-363, .551. The deal reportedly will not be announced until after the World Series. Mattingly would be the third high-profile "star" manager in Marlins history, after Jim Leyland and Ozzie Guillen. He'll also be the eighth Marlins manager (including interims) just since 2010, crazy instability that needs to stop. Mattingly feels like a smart hire initially but we'll ponder further. In any case his Yankees ties can't hurt in a South Florida market filled with NY transplants.

FAU SENT "LETTER OF SUPPORT" FOR SCHNELLENBERGER IN COLLEGE HALL: In a recent column pushing Howard Schnellenberger for the College Football Hall of Fame I noted that none of the three Howardsschools stamped by his success -- Miami, Louisville and FAU -- had formally nominated him for induction, a necessary first step. Well, this from FAU Athletic Director Patrick Chun: "I have spoken directly to the National Football Foundation. Per their suggestion, Dr. [John] Kelly [FAU president] has drafted and submitted a letter directly to the NFF expressing our support of Howard Schnellenberger entering the Hall of Fame. We have been told this is the most effective and appropriate manner to show our support for Howard in the quest to get him into the College Football Hall of Fame." The NFF still would need to make an exception to one of its rules: that entrants have at least a .600 career winning percentage. Because he does not meet that criteria a school may not submit a "formal" nomination, but FAU's official letter of support is a step never before taken. It at least opens a door and gives Howard, 81, a fighting chance.

BOSH, HEAT OPEN SEASON RIGHT: Click on Opening Night, Opening Right for my column off BoshWednesday's Heat season debut, leading with Chris Bosh's big game in his official return from blood clots. Three other takeaways: Miami's Gerald Green-led 3-point shooting will be better than expected. Heat's depth is so obviously improved, led led by impressive rookie sparkplug Justise Winslow, whose defense especially impressed last night. And Pat Riley, who has cultivated an un-dyed white beard, looks like a too-thin non-finalist in a Hemingway lookalike contest.

Poll result: Most see Heat in 46-50 win range: We invited you to to predict the Heat's regular-season win range and a plurality of 41.9 percent had it 46-50 victories, with another 36.5% saying 51-55. Less popular: 11.6% for 56-plus, 8.7% for 41-45 and 1.3% for 40 or less.

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 23, 2015

Dolphins/NFL Week 7 picks and The Interim Kings; plus as Mattingly enters fray, who would you like as Marlins' next manager? Poll. Vote now!; also Chris Bosh reigns, new Elton & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23: IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Best-Heat-player poll, MLB in Cuba, Dolphins, UM hoops hype video, SOPY standings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL WEEK 7: Had a bit of a dip last week with our picks but weathered it OK at 9-5 Fripixoverall and 6-7-1 against the spread. Our Week 7 got off to a double-barreled start last night as we rightly had Seattle both winning and covering. Click on Week 7 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. There's good news for FisherDolphins fans, who figure to be nervous Sunday but ultimately happy. Also click on The Interim Kings for my latest weekly Friday page NFL notes column. I set the bar for Fins interim coach Dan Campbell by listing the top 10 most successful interim coaches of the modern era (since the 1970 merger). One stands above all the rest. Do you know who he is? Your clue is pictured at left.

MarlinsPICK THE MARLINS' NEXT MANAGER AS MATTINGLY ENTERS THE FRAY: The Marlins will replace interim manager Dan Jennings for the 2016 season and five candidates already have interviewed for the job: Manny Acta, Larry Bowa, Alex Cora, Phil Nevin and Bo Porter. Late yesterday a sixth candidate emerged when the Dodgers and Don Mattingly mutually agreed to part ways. Mattingly is thought to be on Miami's radar, although the Fish might have competition for him from three (or more) other teams. It's early, but we invite you to weigh in on these six potential next managers currently at the forefront. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Bosh dethrones Wade as Heat's best player: We asked as the start of the NBA season nears, and you had it Chris Bosh as the Heat's best player over Dwyane Wade by 44.3 percent to 30.1%. After that it was 11.0% for Goran Dragic and 10.5% for Hassan Whiteside.

NEW ELTON SINGLE: Elton John issues his 33rd studio album in February and the first single from it, called "Looking Up," was released today. Here it is. Nice to hear an older pop star still rocking pretty good.

 

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 09, 2015

History says Dan Campbell won't lead Dolphins to playoffs, but here's why he might; also World Series poll, my divisional picks and Rootability Scale; also, Heat/Panthers betting odds, landslide verdict on Philbin firing, a personal note & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1ajlennon1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9: John Lennon would have turned 75 today. Imagine. 2) Click on Joe Had His Chance, Time to Move On for my earlier column on the Dolphins' firing of Philbin. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fire Philbin with poll, SOPY standings, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, Dee Gordon wins Marlins' 'Weighing The Fish' title & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

IMG_0001A PERSONAL NOTE: Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may be aware my mother passed away this week, at age 97. She is pictured just a couple of weeks earlier. I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of condolences. As I wrote on Twitter, "You have a lifetime to get ready to say goodbye, and then find it still isn't easy." But the support from our community of readers has helped. Thanks again!

THE HISTORICAL ODDS AGAINST DAN CAMPBELL MAKING DOLPHINS A PLAYOFF TEAM ... BUT WHY HE COULD: I explore the history and limited success of in-season coaching changes to lead today's Friday NFL notes column appearing with my game-by-game predictions. Click Dan Campbell's Challenge for the full column, but here are the highlights:

Why Campbell probably won't lead Miami  to playoffs: Nobody in his spot ever has. Well, not since the 1970 merger. There have been 72 previous in-season coaching changes since then, a sizable sample, and the new or interim guys are 0-for-72 in seeing their team to the playoffs. In-season changes do tend to cause a favorable bump. The 72 coaches let go had a combined record of 145-454-3 (.242), while the coaches who replaced them finished the season 145-297-1 (.328). That is not an insignificant bump, but neither is it a collective dramatic turnaround. And the absence of playoff precedent is pretty startling.

Ah, but why he might!: The average of those 72 in-season changes has been 8.4 games in, or just past midseason. Campbell has far more games than most to enact a turnaround. In fact only four of those 72 changes have been made sooner than four games in, and not since the 2000 Bengals did it after three games. Also notable, 24 teams that started 1-3 have made the playoffs since 1990 realignment, about one a year on average. Twelve games, and talent enough to get Joe Philbin fired, give Campbell a real shot to make the Dolphins that one team and be the NFL's first interim coach in the playoffs.

1aa1afripixUPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 5: Stayed strong last week in going 12-3 overall and 8-7 against the spread, and started Week 5 right by hitting Indy's win at Houston last night. Click on Week 5 Gems for all our latest picks and full prediction capsules, because the NFL has the temerity to go on even though the Dolphins have a bye. Highlights: Bengals over Seahawks in our Game of the Week, and Saints winning at Philly in our Upset Special ("Aawwk!").

AND YOUR ROOTING INTEREST TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES IS...: Immediately below our new poll you'll find my division-series predictions and also our Rootability Scale. But now it's your turn. The wild-card games are out of the way and we're down to the final eight teams with the two AL division series starting today/Thursday and the two NL series beginning Friday. Which team do you most hope wins the World Series? Pick your favorite from this alphabetical list and say why they have your support.

COTE'S DIVISION-SERIES PICKS: I've got a pair of upsets, one in each league... AL: Blue Jays over Rangers: No upset. Toronto has better hitting and David Price will steer them right in Game 1. Astros over Royals: Upset. Houston drops bombs, and Johnny Cueto has been a disappointment. NL: Cubs over Cardinals: Upset. Jake Arrieta is best pitcher in MLB right now, and Yadier Molina (thumb) is iffy for Cardbirds. Dodgers over Mets: No upset. Metros have great starters, too, but tough to align against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

A NEUTRAL FAN'S GUIDE TO THE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: We rank the 10 playoff teams including wild-cards on a Rootability Scale based on how long it has been since each team's fans last cheered a World Series championship.

1. Chicago Cubs: 1908 -- Theodore Roosevelt was president. Infants being cradled at Wrigley that fall are now aged 107, cranky and impatient. If you have no dog in this postseason hunt but are not rooting for the Cubs, you may be un-American.

2. Houston Astros: 1962 -- The Colt .45s have never won a World Series but fans have been waiting since '62, or two years before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan.

3. Texas Rangers: 1972 -- They have never won a WS since relocating to Texas in '72. You know how long ago the Dolphins' Perfect Season seems? Exactly!

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 1979 -- Willie Stargell and "We Are Family." Peanut farmer in the White House. Current Buccos the second wild-card out.

5. Kansas City Royals: 1985 -- George Brett and Bret Saberhagen were taking fans' brett away. (Sorry).

6. New York Mets: 1986 -- Strawberry. Carter. Gooden. But the major downside to rooting for the Mets is that it unavoidably means hoping for the happiness of Mets fans.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers: 1988 -- Doesn't it seem like they've won more recently? Plus they spent $300 million on players. Rooting for this team is like hoping Donald Trump wins the Lotto.

8. Toronto Blue Jays: 1993 -- Sorry, Canada. I know we've taken permanent custody of your Stanley Cup. But that doesn't mean we want you to purloin our National Pastime.

9. New York Yankees, 2009 -- Thank goodness the wild-card Yankees were the first team eliminated last night because, well ... they're the Yankees.

10. St. Louis Cardinals, 2011 -- Great fans. Great baseball city. But enough with the success, already!

HEAT, PANTHERS BETTING FORECASTS UNDERWHELMING: Bovada's new NBA victory over/unders out today find Miami Heat at a modest 45.5, with 41 of course a .500 record. That places Miami tied for 12th in league (Golden State leads at 59.5) and tied for fifth in the East (Cleveland is tops at 57.5). Over in the NHL, Panthers' 45-1 odds against winning the Stanley Cup rank 22nd of 30 teams. Chicago leads at 7-1.

Poll result: Enormous support for firing of Philbin: This is about as close to unanimity as you get in an online poll. We asked if you support the Dolphins' firing of Joe Philbin and 95.6 percent said yes. Only 2.8% answered no, with the other 1.6% undecided. I could ask, "Are you generally in favor of health and happiness?" and I doubt it'd be 95.6% yes.

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 06, 2015

Do you agree with Dolphins firing coach Joe Philbin? Poll. Vote now!; plus my column on the change, final Marlins 'Weighing The Fish' table, latest SOPY standings, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6: See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose in London and DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Hot List & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My new column on Dolphins change: Needed and well timed: Click on Joe Had His Chance, Time to Move On for my column on the Dolphins' firing of coach Joe Philbin.  

DO YOU AGREE WITH DOLPHINS DECISION TO FIRE COACH JOE PHILBIN?: My column on Monday's big news (link just above) is out. Now it's your turn. What do Dolfans think? Do you agree with Miami making a coaching change at 1-3? Vote and say why you feel as you do.

WEIGHING THE FISH (FINAL): GORDON WINS MARLINS WTF TITLE: We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- 1aa1adeeg 1aa1afishweighWTF! -- was a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our final season ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Gordon (pictured) won easily, although Stanton led comfortably before his extended injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who had the most impactful overall season. Here's the final 2015 WTF standings after 162 games (at 71-91):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @150 

1  DEE GORDON          549.3    1

2  Christian Yelich         407.7   4

3  Martin Prado              399.6   2

4  Justin Bour                 391.9    6

5  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   3

6  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    5

7  Jacob Realmuto          361.9   7

8  Marcell Ozuna            349.5   8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              255.9   9

10  Derek Dietrich          241.1   10

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 4: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosLobos fantasy teams. Pix: Another solid week: Went a strong 12-3 overall and an OK 8-7 against the spread. Bull's-eyed our Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!") with Giants over Bills. Also called Bears ' outright upset of Oakland, and had Jags with points at Indy. Greg's Lobos / family league: Big win: The original Lobos won 108-83 to level our season record at 2-2. Drew Brees' 23 points and Mike Wallace's 22 led a solid if unspectacular effort. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Another big win: The new Lobos defeated Stugotz 119.8-113.3 to even it up at 2-2. Most Valuable Lobo Devonta Freeman had a huge 37.9 points, and we also scored big by signing free-agent Philip Rivers (26.2 points) to replace Andrew Luck.

SOPY: NO CHANGE IN TOP FIVE THROUGH WEEK 5: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- 1aa1asopyState Offensive Player of the Year -- find FIU quarterback Alex McGough maintaining his lead after Week 5. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Because they are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of season. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 6:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 5

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W5        Season

1 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         76.5      763.5

2 (2)         Will Grier, Florida-qb            151.5     675 

3 (3)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             108      630

4 (4)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb     120       565

5 (5)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          127      561.5

6 (7)         Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             123       540

7 (8)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   128.5     519.5

8 (--)         Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          124       437

9 (10)        Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb        98      434

10 (--)       Everett Golson, FSU-qb         111      429

Bubble: Greg Howell, FAU-rb, 420. Other team leader: Tre'Quan Smith, UCF-wr, 260. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: Florida, FIU and UCF have played five games each; all others four.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (4-0); 2. Florida (5-0); 3. Miami (3-1); 4. FIU (2-3); 5. South Florida (1-3); 6. UCF (0-5); 7. FAU (1-3).

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

September 30, 2015

Set the bar on Heat expectations. Poll. Vote now!; plus Philbin firing/Heat title odds, 'Marlins Man' takes on anti-Golden air force, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos Fantasy results, updated SOPY rankings; also, hear Pope Francis' new song (seriously) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) IT IS WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30: Welcome back to the Herald our new Heat and NBA insider, Ethan Skolnick. 2) Season over for Giancarlo Stanton. No surprise, and a smart call. 3) The latest five members of the Dolphins' all-time team announced by the club: Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Mandich and Dan Marino. How the hell did Marino get in there!?! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins collapse vs. Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Anti-Golden flyovers verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Philbin now most likely to be fired: New Bovada odds today have Dolphins coach Joe Philbin the likeliest NFL coach to be fired during the season at 9-4 odds. (Next hottest seats belong to Lions' Jim Caldwell 4-1, Colts' Chuck Pagano 7-1 and Browns' Mike Pettine 15-2). I doubt Philbin keeps his job after this year but doubt he'll be fired in-season.

Wade leads Heat in 13th year: Click The Great Unknown for my latest column off Heat media day as team opens preseason camp at FAU. The unknown: Miami relying on starting five that hasn't been on court together at all. What you can count on? Dwyane Wade. Again. 

SETTING THE BAR ON HEAT EXPECTATIONS: The Heat has accrued such trust as a franchise that we accept last season's non-playoff year as an aberration that won't be repeated. We assume the playoffs. We assume
1aa1aheat 1aa1adragicwadewinning -- it's just a matter of how much. We assume the postseason -- it's just a matter of how far. So: How far? What are your thoughts for the Heat as Miami opens training camp today at FAU? For me, an NBA title is too much to expect but a place in the Eastern finals (presumably vs . LeBron's Cavaliers) might not be. For me that's the high side, the optimum that's in the realm of realistic. A top-four seed? Realistic. Then again I've also read and heard the Heat forecast as a likelier lower East seed, maybe sixth or seventh. I'm curious what your realistic expectations are at this point -- not what you hope, but what you'd bet is most probably -- with a starting lineup of Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic (pictured), Chris Bosh and Luol Deng and center Hassan Whiteside, plus added depth. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Heat, NBA championship odds: Via Bovada today, Cleveland is updated NBA title favorite at 11-4 odds, followed by San Antonio at 3-1 and Golden State at 5-1. Miami and Chicago are tied for second in the East and seventh overall at 20-1.

'MARLINS MAN' (YEAH, THAT GUY) COMING TO AL GOLDEN'S DEFENSE: 'Marlins Man' Laurence Leavy 1aa1amarlinsman(pictured), the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who seems to spend a lot more time being a sports fan than being a lawyer, is renting a plane to fly a pro-Al Golden banner over the Miami Hurricanes' next home game Oct. 17 vs. Virginia Tech. The banner is to read, "Keep Golden -- He's Class, Not Trash." Leavy is fed up with the anti-Golden flyovers haunting the skies above UM games and wanted to counter that air force with one of his own. Interesting. AIR WARS!

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 3: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosfantasy teams. Pix: I am man, hear me roar!: Great bounce-back week for us at 13-3 overall and 10-6 against the spread. Nailed outright upset wins by Bills and Eagles and had Raiders-plus-points. Greg's Lobos / family league: Big loss: The original Lobos got buried 176-133 to fall to 1-2. Had Adrian Peterson, Seahawks defense and Odell Beckham all score in the 20s, but my opponent got 90 combined from A.J. Green and Steve Smith. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Yes! Off the schneid!: The new Lobos crushed Papi, 164-59.3, making us 1-2. Got a big 42.3 points from game MVL (Most Valuable Lobo) Devonta Freeman. I decided to start him 10 minutes before kickoff. I choose to call that great coaching.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH MAINTAINS NO. 1 AS BYES KICK IN: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY 1aa1asopyrankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- find FIU quarterback Alex McGough maintaining his lead after Week 4. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Because they are cumulative, players on a bye week (starting this past week) take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of season. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 5:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 4

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W4        Season

1 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         150.5     687

2 (6)         Will Grier, Florida-qb            153.5     523.5 

3 (2)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             BYE      522

4 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb    BYE     445

5 (4)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          BYE     434.5

6 (7)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             82        420

7 (8t)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             99        417

8 (5)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb  BYE     391

9 (--)         Thomas Owens, FIU-wr         50       354

10 (--)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       110      336

Bubble: Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb, 327. Other team leader: Tre'Quan Smith, UCF-wr, 245. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: Miami, FSU and South Florida 3 games each; all others 4.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (3-0); 2. Florida (4-0); 3. Miami (3-0); 4. FIU (2-2); 5. South Florida (1-3); 6. UCF (0-4); 7. FAU (1-3).

1aa1afrancismusicHEAR POPE FRANCIS' NEW SINGLE. NO, SERIOUSLY: Fresh off his successful tour of the U.S., Pope Francis plans to release a musical album called Wake Up! (pictured) on Nov. 27. (This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true?) The album features the pontiff's speeches set to orchestral rock and pop music as well as to Gregorian chants, and proceeds will benefit a support fund for refugees. The first released single is called "Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!" (The pope loves exclamation points!). Click HERE for a Rolling Stone piece on the album, and to hear the single, a 5 minute 12 second opus in which the Pope is not heard until the 2:00 mark. And, yes ... yes it is about as strange as you might imagine. Francis will support the album with a winter tour featuring opening act Miley Cyrus. OK I made up that last part.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 29, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 18.0%; plus Fins ripped by Bills 41-14; also Hot Button Top 10, the sharp divide on anti-Golden flyovers & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Anti-Golden flyovers poll, rarity of Big 3 all 3-0, Collball Week 4 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Philbin puts himself in peril: Coaches already on the hot seat cannot afford embarrassing performances like the Dolphins had Sunday in their home opener. Click on Philbin In Peril for my column off the game. Our live gamepost is directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 18.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 18.0 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) 1aa1adsmin the wake of Sunday's 41-14 loss to the visiting Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 1-2. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Next poll: Oct. 4 (following game vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Interpreting the latest vote: Of course a spike from a previous 1.7 percent to this week's 18.0% makes little sense after a loss as bad as Sunday's. Pleased Bills fans weighing in? More likely pissant anarchists simply trying to throw a wrench in our gears. Whatever. No matter. Free country! The majority spoke (loudly) with 81.4% "very dissatisfied."  

G3: BUFFALO 41, DOLPHINS 14: FINAL: Home opener. Division opponent. Coming off a bad loss. So many reasons Miami needed to show up big today. What a monumental failure all the way around. ..... Fourth quarter: MIA 2nd and goal. NO score. Of course. BUF now up 41-14 on 41-yard TD run by Karlos Williams. Do the details even matter at this point? ... Fins within 34-14 on 46-yard Tanny pass to Matthews and then a missed kick. ... Miami 1st and goal at Bills 2, four straight complete passes. Way to trust that running game! Unbelievable. Seriously. ... Bills defensive hold wipes out a Tannehill sack and fumble loss. ... BUF 34-8 now on 38-yard TD pass Taylor to Chris Hogan. Just plain embarrassing. ... Wanted/needed: Miracle of Biblical proportions. ..... Third quarter: Dolphins finally do something, score, pull within 27-8 on Tanny's 21-yard TD throw to Rishard Matthews plus a 2-point conversion pass. ... Bills miss a 54-yard FG try. Hey something went right for Miami! ..... Halftime report: Awfulness times infinity equals Miami's first half performance. ..... Second quarter: Tannehill's third interception sets up 51-yard FG and 27-0 game. ... Bills 24-0 on Preston Brown 44-yard INT return. ... BUF 26-yard FG for 17-0 lead. Miami doing nothing right so far. ..... First quarter: Miami drive starts promisingly at BUF 38, then Tannehill intercepted off Landry's hands. ... Buffs 14-0 on 10-yard Shady McCoy scoring play on slant. MIA defense gouged for 158 yards on 2 TD drives totaling 13 plays. ... Nightmare start! After a 3-and-out by Dolphins, defense gives up 5-play, 77-yard Bills TD drive capped by ex-Fin Charles Clay's 25-yard romp through myriad missed tackles. Oy. ... Is there a nobler aim known to mankind than making Rex Ryan sad? ..... Pregame: Anthem by Darius "Hootie" Rucker. The Dolphins make him cry. Uh oh. ... Warren Buffett, worth 10 times more than Stephen Ross, was on home sideline in a Ndamukong Suh jersey. Buffett has only three fewer tackles than Suh this year. ... LT Branden Albert inactive today as expected. Uh oh. ... Flyover banner referencing "Sardine Can Stadium." Surprised Stephen Ross hasn't ordered his air force to shoot it down. ..... Original post: Dolphins stage their 50th franchise regular-season home opener late this afternoon vs. Buffalo and once again Dolfans have no real idea how good their team is because its maddening inconsistency defies knowing. Click on Land of No Idea for today's latest column for our full preview. The 4:25 p.m. kickoff has all the elements of a delicious matchup. It is Miami’s home opener, it’s vs. an AFC East rival, and it is coming off a bad Dolphins loss at Jacksonville to ratchet up the pressure on Joe 1aa1abillsdolPhilbin’s guys. Want more? How about blustery Rex Ryan in Bills clothes now, and former Fins bully Richie Incognito back in town tasked with blocking Ndamukong Suh. This could be damned entertaining, folks! It also could be a tough one for Miami to win. Don’t read too much into Tom Brady putting up 466 yards last week; the Buffs’ pass-D and defense in general is pretty good against everybody not named Brady. And that defensive line has the potential to dominate MIA’s blocking front and spend way too much time today in Ryan Tannehill’s pocket — especially if LT Branden Albert (hamstring) doesn’t play, as expected. The homies haven’t shown enough consistent running game (or commitment to it), or enough balance to take much heat off Tannehill. On the other side, a Dolphins run defense gouged for 284 yards the first two games will face its toughest challenge yet in LeSean McCoy. Miami is bound to get some help from Buffs’ proneness to penalties; still, I doubt the home stadium will be a happy place as dusk settles. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, people! My pick: Bills, 23-20. (Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. (Click Hot Button Top 5 for our abbreviated, print-only cousin):

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami fails huge test to Buffalo in 50th home opener Sunday: We are now in our seventh consecutive year of not knowing whether Miami will be good this time or S.O.D. (Same Ol’ Dolphins), doubts festering anew with last week's disheartening loss in Jacksonville and now Sunday's 41-14 spanking by Buffalo. We know Buffalo presented a big challenge ... and sadly found out if the Fins were up to that challenge.

2. MARLINS: Teams wraps up home schedule on disappointing season: Only six road games now remain after Sunday's home finale. Not much has gone right this year beyond Dee Gordon chasing NL batting title and Jose Fernandez improving to 17-0 in his career at home. Meanwhile club has interviewed Manny Acta as their potential next manager -- Acta, who last managed in 2012 and has career record of 372-519 (.418). Reach for the stars, Marlins!

3. HEAT: Bosh healthy as Miami opens training camp: Chris Bosh is back after missing much of last season with blood clots as training camp opens Tuesday at FAU after Media Day today/Monday at the bayside arena. The Heat expects to be much better after missing last season’s playoffs. My interpretation of much better: Anything short of a conference finals against LeBron’s Cavs will be a disappointment.

4. HURRICANES: UM braces for pass-happy Cincy: The Canes, 3-0 but unranked and with restless fans, follow a bye week with a Thursday night game on ESPN at Cincinnati. The Bearcats aren’t very good (2-2) but they average 413 passing yards per game. Hope the off week provided plenty of rest for UM’s defensive backs.

5. PANTHERS: Jagr delivers lesson in how to thwart blackmail: As NHL preseason continues, the Cats’ ageless Jaromir Jagr, 43, recently thwarted blackmail try by a Czech model, 18, who wanted $2,000 to not publish a photo of them in bed. Jagr said he didn’t care, rightly figuring that, instead of shame, the photo would likelier bring high-fives from admiring teammates.

6. GATORS: Swamp magic: Florida miracle-rallies past Tennessee: UF is now 4-0 after beating visiting Vols 28-27 Saturday after trailing 27-14 late. That's the good news. The bad news: Gators now face four ranked opponents in a row. 

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men ready for season of high hopes: Coach Jim Larranaga's guys are about to lift lid on season of big expectations. Practice opens this coming Friday and the season starts Nov. 13.

8. FIU: Panthers fall at Louisiana Tech: FIU beat the point spread with a decent road effort but still fell to 2-2 in search of first winning season since 2011.  

9. WNBA: Playoffs down to the final four: Note to self: Look up who the four surviving WNBA teams are in order to more convincingly feign interest.

10. RANDOM EVIDENCE: Greg Cote's blog turns 10!: Yeah, I know. Nobody is talking about this week being the 10th anniversary of my MiamiHerald.com blog. But what's the good of having a blog if not for occasional shameless self-aggrandizing?

Poll result: Sharply divided views of anti-Golden flyovers at games: We asked in the previous blogpost what you thought of those anti-Al Golden flyovers at UM games (you may still vote), and 50.3 percent supported them because they think Golden must go. However, another 23.1% think the banners are tacky and rude, 21.7% are against them because they are pro-Golden, and 4.9% think it's silly to fly those banners while team is winning. (Note: What clearly seemed an organized effort between anti- and pro-Golden factions, ultimately won by the anti- crowd, caused a sharp spike in total votes. Democracy!)

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 25, 2015

Dolphins/NFL Week 3 picks (uh oh); plus Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson retires right, Panthers' Jaromir Jagr teaches us how to handle a blackmail attempt; also happy birthday to us, revisiting Bullygate, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1abobblepope1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat future power rank, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins 50th team, Florida Sports Hall of Fame, latest SOPY rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

1aa1a10Happy birthday to us!: Light the candles because our Random Evidence blog turns 10 this week. We were christened as the Miami Herald first's online blog at this time in 2005 and, thanks to you, we're still going strong as the only MiamiHerald.com sports blog that covers local teams, national issues and also delves outside sports -- always with an eye on humor. Thanks for joining us on the ride!

"Welcome, Pope Francis, to America. We're still on for lunch today, right?" --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 3: Licking wounds from a tough Week 2 (we had a 7-9 record overall, 8-8 1aa1afripixvs. the spread), we barrel on undeterred in our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions. Week 3 got off to a strong start last night as we correctly had Giants winning and covering. Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins are upset losers at home to Buffalo (sorry), and Cowboys stay unbeaten despite no Tony Romo. Also click on Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood for my accompanying Friday Page column. I write how about Aaron Rodgers' greatness overall reaches another level altogether at home.

CHAD "OCHOCINCO" JOHNSON IS DOING RETIREMENT RIGHT: I enjoyed writing today's column catching up with retired receiver Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, the Miami-raised eccentric who last played in the 1aa1apchoNFL in 2011 and got his last shot in '12 training camp with Miami. He's one of a kind. Plays in a local men's soccer league. Shows up at strangers' houses challenging to play them in video soccer. He has 3.6 million Twitter followers and is blurring the line between celebrity and regular folks, making them one. He collects adventures and is having way too much fun to miss football. Click on Ocho to read the column in full. There are some great photos of Chad playing soccer in West Kendall by Gaston De Cardenas accompanying the column, including the one shown. Because Johnson is such a character, you forget what a great player he was. Great enough that, when he becomes Hall of Fame eligible next year, he should get a serious consideration. I certainly don't see him as a first-ballot guy and probably would bet he won't ever get into Canton, but check out the career comparison between Johnson and Michael Irvin, who is in Canton. Except that Irvin played for a more glamorous teams and has Super Bowl rings, they're close to the same. Food for thought:

                    Years    Catches    Yards        TDs   Pro Bowls

Irvin               12        750        11,904       65         5

Johnson          11        766        11,059       67         6

1aa1ajagrPANTHERS' JAGR HANDLES BLACKMAIL THREAT WITH SPLENDID NONCHALANCE: The Florida Panthers and ageless 43-year-old star Jaromir Jagr are in their preseason, and this happened to Jagr very recently. It's a bad-turned-great story on many levels. Essentially, in a blackmail attempt, somebody said to Jaromir, "We have compromising photos!!" And his response was to pretty much yawn and say, "Yeah? So?" An 18-year-old Czech model allegedly/reportedly tried to extort $2,000 from Jagr to stop her from releasing a photo of the two of them in bed following a recent go-round, according to the Czech tabloid Blesk. Jagr declined to pay, obviously not bothered by the photo (which I show here). Blesk identified the model as "Catherine from Moravia." She has since been identified elsewhere as Katka Provaznikova. In any case why would Jagr be bothered by this photo? He's single and he's famously active socially (shall we say), sort of a Derek Jeter on skates. What this model thought would bring him shame and embarrassment is far more likely to bring him high-fives from envious Panthers teammates and admiring NHL rivals.

REVISITING BULLYGATE: As 2013 Dolphins Bullygate central figure Richie Incognito returns to Miami this week as a Buffalo Bill, former Fins offensive line coach Jim Turner -- fired as a result of the scandal -- is in court with a lawsuit against Ted Wells, the NFL lawyer whose report Turner says made him a scapegoat and defamed him. Read this week's Daily Business Review update on the case here.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (150 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton once led comfortably before his extended injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the most impactful overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 150 games (actually 152, at 65-87):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @140 

1  Dee Gordon                505.9    1

2  Martin Prado              374.3    4

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   2

4  Christian Yelich         363.2   5

5  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    3

6  Justin Bour                 345.2    7

7  Jacob Realmuto          339.8   6

8  Marcell Ozuna            316.7   8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              253.1   9

10  Derek Dietrich          228.9   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 9, Gordon 5.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...